Picnic Blanket POTA on a beautiful spring day at South Mountains State Park

Monday, April 10, 2023, was a spectacular day weather-wise. Spring was out in all its glory making it impossible to stay indoors.

That day, I was driving back to the QTH and made a little detour to the Clear Creek Access of South Mountains State Park.

According to my calculations, I had about one hour to play radio. I did have a firm deadline to hop off the air because I needed to take my daughter to a tennis lesson that afternoon. Couldn’t be late to that!

South Mountains State Park (K-2753)

As I pulled into the Clear Creek Access parking area, I noticed a family of five grabbing picnic supplies from their car.

For the first time ever, there was going to be competition for the one single picnic table at the Clear Creek access!

Actually, there would be no competition at all because there was no way in the world I’d ever take over the picnic table when a family could use it. 🙂

They had a much better reason to use a picnic table than me. Frankly, I was super pleased to see someone else besides a POTA activator using that table. I get a real thrill out of seeing families enjoying our public lands.

Plus, I don’t need a table to play POTA so it was a brilliant excuse to pull the picnic blanket out of the car and set up under a beautiful antenna support…I mean, tree.

For this activation, I decided to use my Penntek TR-45L and, for an antenna, two 28 foot lengths of wire.

My TR-45L has the Z-Match manual ATU option and, in the past, I’ve enjoyed matching those two wires for some serious POTA fun.

Another advantage using a simple 28′ wire radiator is that it’s dead simple to deploy. Since it’s lightweight, has no coils, and no matching unit, it’ll hang on the most feeble of branches. There’s just no weight to it.

Plus, I think it’s fun to match those wires with the Z-Match ATU.

With the blanket on the ground, I set up the radio, the antenna, the log book, and prepared to hop on the air!


Note: All Amazon, CW Morse, and eBay links are affiliate links that support the QRPer.com at no cost to you.

On The Air

I decided to start my activation on the 20 meter band.

I started calling CQ POTA and worked my first six stations in eight minutes! Woot!

Then silence. Turns out, the bands were pretty rough that otherwise gorgeous day. After a few minutes, I moved down to the 30 meter band.

30M was in better shape, even though QSB was still quite deep at times. Nonetheless, I logged eight more stations in ten minutes!

I ran out of time and had to call QRT, but I was pleased to have snagged a total of 14 stations including Park-To-Parks with KC1NYZ and AD0YM! Thank you!


Here’s what this 5 watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map.

Activation Video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation.  As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.

Note that Patreon supporters can watch and even download this video 100% ad-free through Vimeo on my Patreon page:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Simple pleasures

It’s funny but when I write up a field report I take note of how long my gear list is.

Admittedly, I include loads of things in this list. I learned early on that others want to know not only what radio and antenna I’m using, but also my pencil, notepad, and even camera. I get it because I’m the same way–it’s great to see a product actually being used in the field before you purchase it.

When I mentally remove the things that are listed in every activation–logging pad/pencil, camera/tripod, CW key, packs, etc.–I’m left with the business end of the field radio kit.

When I use the TR-45L, my “business end” gear list is very short. Since the model I have has a built-in battery and manual ATU, I list the radio, the key, and the antenna. That’s it.

Same thing with my Elecraft KX2; attach a key and an antenna and you’re in business!

Besides the brilliant Apollo-era aesthetic, this is what I really love about the fully-loaded TR-45L. Just grab it and go.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me for some “picnic blanket POTA”–!

I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.

As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me! Have a wonderful weekend!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

5 thoughts on “Picnic Blanket POTA on a beautiful spring day at South Mountains State Park”

    1. Ha ha! No way! I almost always hear the “EV” in your callsign and instantly recognize you, OM! Guess my brain was focusing on something else.

  1. It looks like I was the first to catch you on 20M. I really enjoy your activation videos and field reports. I have never heard you on 40M but I keep an ear out.
    Larry. NA0F MN

  2. Your QSO map has me in Maine but Im in Mass so not sure whats going on there (my grid info is correct in all the databases – FN42la).

    Thanks again for pulling me out of the static. This was also a park to park for you.

    Brian – KC1NYZ

    1. Hi, Brian,

      Yes, I’m not sure why, but sometimes the QSO Map makes errors like this. I noticed this once with a hunter who is in WA state, but it located him in KS. There’s no way I know of to change it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.